Tears flowed freely down my cheeks when I realized that the men and women who had changed my heart, had been killed by my ancestors.
What value do the tiny books of the Book of Mormon have? Enos, Omni, Jarom and the Words of Mormon? As I study the assigned reading for Sunday School class, I was reminded that love and faith in Christ and in people, even my enemies, really change things for the better.
I am the beneficiary of those who chose to love their enemies.
I carry the blood of my Native American forefathers. President Kimball said often that those who carry Native American blood are Lamanites. My forefathers the Lamanites hated the people I had come to love through their written testimonies and teachings of Christ in the Book of Mormon. My ancestors killed these beloved men off, made them all extinct. I am a living and breathing descendant of those who shed the blood of these men, their wives and children.
My ancestors hated the believers, but the true believers did not hate them back.
Moroni and Enos may never know what they did for me. I have dark brown eyes and dark skin, the darkest of a set of 7 siblings, many blue-eyed and blonde. Growing up in Mexico City, I was not considered beautiful by the standard of society. I look more “india” or Native American, than they. And being called an “indio” or indian is not a compliment there. It is akin to saying “stupid” or “lazy.” For example, I remember as a 7-year-old girl standing in the marketplace with my mother and my 5-year-old blue-eyed, goldy-locked brother. “You have such a beautiful child” said the lady at the stand. “Thank you!” I said shyly, only to hear the lady reply “not you, the pretty blonde girl.” Needless to say, that did not help my self esteem (and it made by brother furious to be called a pretty blonde girl). I was never really proud to have brown eyes, or to be brown. Society had no appreciation for it. “Los indios” had been ostracized, enslaved, taken advantage of, and they are the lowest socioeconomic class at large. But as I read the Book of Mormon, I began to realize that I was loved and blessed by my Heavenly Father, by Christ, and by a great number of countless others such as Moroni, Mormon and Enos, who had authored and preserved their testimonies in that book for me specifically, the Lamanite.
I can’t even begin to imagine Moroni’s reality as he wrote down “my beloved brethren the Lamanites” coming up to the last chapter in the Book, in Moroni 10. Can you picture him? He was hiding in some obscure place. Filthy poor. Absolutely and utterly alone. A veteran of decades of bloody war. He had no wife, no children, no siblings, no mother and father, no cousins or friends. They had all been killed off by these “beloved” Lamanite brethren of his. Say what? Moroni is in hiding, he has left mountains of cadavers, well over 10,000, men killed off by these Lamanites. And yet, he is so filled by the pure love of Christ that he not only calls we Lamanites “my beloved brethren,” but he actually works full time in hopes some of us will love Christ and will be saved with Him.
NEXT WEEK SUNDAY SCHOOL IN THE BOOK OF MORMON
I teach Sunday School at my local ward, and we are coming up on Enos, Jarom, Omni, and the Words of Mormon. I often like to get to the essence of the lesson in a few lines. Here, one important lesson is we can spend our lives in hate, fighting our enemies off. Or we can spend our lives in love. We can live in love when we enrich our lives in Christ, nurture and protect, even through war, but seeking for opportunities to bless and change things around.
In these books we have men like Moroni, Enos, Jarom, and Mormon, who author lines expressing love for their enemies and talk of their efforts to bring them to Christ. And other men such as Omni, Amaron, Chemish, Abinadom, Ameleki, who basically talk very briefly about surviving the bloody wars against the Lamanites. As a teenager, I read the words of the later authors and found it funny that it seemed they were just passing on the baton, doing their homework at the last minute, writing something quickly just to turn it in. But now, I realize that they had given their lives in bloody battle against the Lamanites, the meant beneficiaries for this record. If you had to write a document that would be given to the children of the people who are considered your enemies, what would you write? They wrote love.
And so I wonder, can I love like Enos, Jarom, Mormon and Moroni? Can I love the refugees? The immigrants? Can I love the Taliban like that? ISIS? The poor? Criminals? Who would be the unmentionable enemy who should be on this list, to be loved sincerely? To pray for? To wish salvation for? To work and labor to actually help?
What kind of love is this? I found two common factors in the love of those who prayed for me to receive Christ (Lehi, Nephi, Enos, Ammon, Mormon, Moroni and “many other saints”). They share:
(1) A love of Jesus Christ, unashamed, bold and clear. A love that drives their whole lives.
(2) An ability to put their life in perspective, and see what little or much they could do to help others come to Christ. They accepted and loved even those who hated them.
I do not think we can love our enemies without loving Christ first and foremost. The kind of Christian love required of us is a love for God bigger than a love for ourselves. This kind of love is so amazing, that it is given us. We cannot muster such amazingness ourselves. We have to choose to desire it and be willing to receive it. We have to desire to love far outside our own little self. Then we have to act on love. That choice allows Christ to gift us an endowment of divine love, a love which enlarges our souls and capacities to encompass even the unthinkable.
Have you ever played that game where you imagine you had a magic lamp and a genie could grant you three wishes? What would you wish for? Now, magic genies and lamps are hard to come across (wink), but the Lord is always accessible. If the Lord talked to you and told you that He could give you anything, what would you ask for? This is basically what He told Enos. Enos 1:15 says the Lord “had said unto me: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it.” He asked for you and me, today, over 2000 years after him, to have the Book of Mormon, to convince us that “Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God.” The work that Christ has done in my little Lamanite family is a miraculous reality.
The love of the old enemies of my ancestors produced a reality in my life that could be called magical: I am glad to be me, I have peace, I try to go about doing good, and I love abundantly many around me. I am a disciple, and as such, I pray to be able to love my enemy, and be helpful.